Belleville Henderson Central School awarded $15,000 grant for purchase of portable sawmill

BELLEVILLE, NY —  Students in the Belleville Henderson Central School District will soon benefit from an enhanced STEM (Science, Technology. Engineering, and Math) curriculum thanks to a $15,000 grant awarded to the district from the Bayer Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Program.

The $15,000 grant will go to purchase a portable sawmill and safety equipment for use by middle and high school students as part of the district’s agriculture and technology curriculum. This program will have a heavy emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as students will determine tree varieties, calculate board feet, mill lumber and design their own projects, while keeping safety at the forefront. This will provide students with the opportunity to try out a new hobby, learn career skills, and explore college opportunities.

The overall objectives of the project are to have students understand the process a tree goes through in order to become lumber, be able to apply safety concepts to effectively run a sawmill in order to mill their own lumber, be able to apply science concepts related to forestry, be able to apply math concepts related to forestry, and to expose students to potential careers and develop skills related to forestry.

“In Jefferson County, there are nine state forests, totaling over fifteen thousand acres. It is important to expose students to careers in these areas, so they know what opportunities are available to them,” says Tedra Bean, District Agriculture Instructor. “It is important to give students hands-on experiences in this field, in order to prepare them for the workforce. Many students may go on to pursue higher education, however this sawmill will be a great opportunity to give students experience for directly entering the workforce.”

The agriculture and technology departments at Belleville Henderson Central will work together in order to implement the project and collaborate with other teachers. The district’s Agriculture Program is the oldest, continuously running such educational program in the United States.

“We are thrilled to receive the $15,000 grant from the Bayer Fund,” says Jane A. Collins, District Superintendent. “Our students, staff and community value STEM education. We have a deep seated background in agriculture and living and working along Lake Ontario. One of the main goals of our Board of Education is encouraging each student’s development of their natural skills and guide them to excel in a vocational trade, academics, or both. We look forward to incorporating these educational enhancements into their curriculums.”

“On behalf of our community and Board of Education, it is very rewarding and humbling to see the continued success and dedication of our agricultural program, particularly during these trying times, under the leadership of instructor Tedra Bean and our students. We could not be more Panther Proud than we are of our Agricultural Program and students!” says John W. Allen, President, Belleville Henderson Central School District Board of Education.

To qualify for a Grow Rural Education grant, farmers nominate a public school district to compete for a merit-based $15,000 grant. School districts that are nominated, then submit a grant application describing their STEM-focused project. Grow Rural Education’s Farmer Advisory Council, consisting of a panel of math and science teachers and approximately 30 farmer leaders from across the country, review the finalist applications and select the winning school districts, including the Belleville Henderson Central District.

“Bayer Fund and the farmers we partner with feel incredibly passionate about Grow Rural Education because we’re investing in our children – who are our future – by enhancing STEM learning in rural public school districts,” said Al Mitchell, President, Bayer Fund. “We are always amazed by the incredible support of local farmers, as well as the countless ways Grow Rural Education brings teachers, students and people in the community together to set children up for success.”

To view a complete list of winners or to learn more about the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program, visit or follow along on Facebook at Farmers are also encouraged to participate in Bayer Fund’s America’s Farmers Grow Communities program, which is accepting farmer enrollments through November 1, 2020.